White House: COVIDTests.gov will distribute free rapid tests from January 19

The White House has announced where people can order free COVID-19 tests from COVIDTests.gov starts on Wednesday 19 January. This follows a government promise to set up a website to distribute 500 million tests, which President Joe Biden announced in December.

You only need to enter two details for a test to be sent to you: your name and address. In its announcement, the White House said the tests will be shipped “within 7-12 days of order” via the US Postal Service. Currently the limit is four tests per residential address.

On Wednesday this week, a White House adviser said the site “should be online this weekend.” Technically, the government has met that deadline – you can visit COVIDTests.gov right now, although it currently shows a landing page letting you know that tests will be available Wednesday and you don’t need to enter a credit card number to get one.

The USPS isn’t solely responsible for getting the tests to humans. It was also tapped to develop a website that will deal with potentially millions of people trying to get a test at the same time, according to protocol. The report quotes a government official as saying it “takes the launch of our website very seriously” and that it “didn’t start from scratch” building the site. The US Digital Service will also help launch the site and provide support as needed, protocol say.

Given the government’s poor record of launching healthcare websites, there’s been some skepticism about whether the site will handle traffic – and some have rightly pointed out that some of the most vulnerable people could be in trouble. to get online and navigate a website. A statement from the White House says you can also call a hotline to order tests if you can’t access the website, and the government “will work with state and local community organizations to help the hardest-hit and at-risk communities apply for tests.”